Sunday, June 15, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night...

Did I really just read that?

Did this book at an A-list press really just begin with the phrase "Throughout history..."?

Yes. Yes indeed it did.

(The book as a whole is better than that. But still.)


Janice said...


Flavia said...


I just read a work published by a great press and recommended to me by multiple people that at times read like a dissertation by a grad student out of his depth & with no real sense of what his audience might know about post-Reformation religious history--I'm talking embarrassingly reductive accounts of complicated historical events; the casual use of contested and/or outdated terms; etc).

Given the kinds of quibbles that hold up and/or block really smart & worthwhile projects, the mind boggles to see such howlers in print.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Flavia, that's so true. In this case, it seems to be a distinguished senior person, writing a career-capping interpretive synthesis. These can either be great, or they can be lazy; this one seems to be a bit of both.

But s/he's a known name, and so gets to publish whatever. I get the feeling this happens a lot more than we'd like to think. And if it's a Great Eminence, people will praise it to the skies. I've been stalling on a book review for just this reason: huge name in the field... and the book reads like a 300-page info dump, with nary an argument in sight.

Susan said...

You are totally right about what Famous People (TM) are able to get away with. I was once told by one of the readers when a totally stupid article was published by a "name" that he knew the article was dumb, but he wanted Famous People to write about the subject.

But also, if the book is a combination of great and lazy, people don't push on the lazy because of the great, and the praise reflects the great, while the lazy is overlooked.

I also find that some people, particularly those who publish a lot, get careless about writing.